I ♥ Perspectives

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I started listening to KQED last winter, when I was considering relocating to San Francisco from New York City. At the time, the public radio programming on WNYC served as the soundtrack of my existence. Nora Ephron had Louis Armstrong and Harry Nilsson. I had Brian Lehrer and "The New Yorker Radio Hour".

Early on, I had a habit of comparing KQED's original content with WNYC's, and "Perspectives" stood out. There was nothing else like it, and the segments quickly became an indispensable part of my morning. In a world where irony and sarcasm are slathered like condiments instead of sprinkled like seasonings, it felt good to start the day fresh with thoughtful, earnest observations--and to know there was a forum created specifically to nurture them.

Over the last year, I've left my job and swapped coasts. In between, I've heard more "Perspectives" than I can guesstimate, but my favorites have stuck with me. I remember Mike's concern that the tragedies on the news would complicate his daughter's as-yet untarnished faith in humanity. I remember how Summer and her family found solace in the transportive power of Star Trek while weathering trying times at home.

I've gotten to know the regulars. Like Richard, who spoke recently about those who have sworn off news in the wake of the election. How he thinks disengaging will exacerbate, not alleviate, their frustrations. I listened, agreeing with him in theory while still nursing my own disillusionment with current events.

The next morning, when the announcer introduced that day's "Perspective," the conflicted feelings Richard had stirred in me the day before returned. My boyfriend, Scott, listened with me while Lloyd remembered his friend, Lilly. Lilly had worked as head waitress at a Chinese restaurant, and let Lloyd and his sons eat free when he lost his job. At her funeral, Lloyd thanked her for allowing him to preserve his dignity in front of his children. For years now, as a dedicated employee of his local food bank, he's returned the courtesy to others that Lilly gave to him.


"That was a really good one," Scott said. I agreed as we both swallowed hard, and felt grateful to Lloyd for putting things in perspective.

With my own Perspective, I'm Mary Franklin Harvin.

Mary Franklin Harvin is a professional writer, newly transported to the Bay Area.